Category Archives: Equality

No Substitute For Experience

There is one candidate that deeply concerns me; Marco Rubio. His extreme hostility toward gay Americans saddens me. Not only does he want our community to continually be treated like second-class citizens but if he had it his way he would do whatever it took to eradicate us completely.

He has vowed to use tax-payers money (and his precious time as President) to overturn any law(s) that treat us equally. I find it terribly upsetting that he vowed to work hard overturning DADT. Thousands of gay Americans fight for his rights and freedom every day and he wants to strip those soldiers from their careers – how despicable.

He strongly opposes loving same-gender families from adopting and even helped raise money for conversion therapy. Believing that being gay is a choice clearly shows his lack of understanding/education on who we are, and our community.

I’ll end here for now but how hypocritical must one be to enjoy all the freedoms and equal treatment that his parents came to America searching for to gain citizenship and then turn around and use our system to take away freedoms and equal treatment from other Americans!?!

Because there is no substitute for experience I  wonder his reaction if he were the one in this video clip?

 

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Filed under Bashing, Bullying, Christian, Civil Rights, Discrimination, Diversity, Education, Equality, Families, Gay, Home, Homophobia, Homophobic, Hypocrite, Intolerance, Lessons, Life, Love, Marriage, Marriage Equality, parents, Rights, School, Uncategorized, Youth

I Am Loved Right Where I Am

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Amazon http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu

Barnes & Noble http://tinyurl.com/p822wrz

Signed Copy http://jasonj.biz/author.php

Youtube Video http://tinyurl.com/ocupldl

I recall my first grade teacher (Ms. Martin) talking about a fun craft project which included the use of scissors.  I was beyond excited and could not wait to begin.  Ms. Martin placed the scissor rack in the center table and off we all dashed with anticipation. To my disappointment however the only options were right-handed scissors.  Being left-handed I did not know how to cut with right-handed scissors but seeing all my classmates I desperately tried.  Try as I may my cut-outs were looking nothing like those of my classmates.  Frustrated I secretly asked myself why I was different.  Ensuring the rack included a pair of left-handed scissors would have prevented the feeling of isolation I experienced.  It was there in elementary school I first experienced the feeling of being dissimilar and not belonging.

Fast forward twenty five years I became a teacher myself (obtained my Masters in Arts and Teaching at Trinity University in Washington, D.C.).  I taught various grades and subjects in Syracuse, N.Y., Brooklyn, N.Y., Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC.  Prior to teaching I was a youth counselor for many years – working with youth diagnosed from moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, behavioral and emotional challenges, those diagnosed with autism/Asperger’s syndrome and even including eating disorders.  While working with children I have noticed a disheartening truth over the years.  Regardless of the therapeutic setting, classroom or child population, one thing that became abundantly clear to me is that children who do not fit the “traditional family” mold at times face a tremendous sense of feeling alone and uncomfortable – especially because every book in their homes, schools and libraries mention a mom and dad. It is certainly no fault of the families involved but more so the fact that, as a whole, society caters to the commonly advertised mom and dad family.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs the feeling of belonging is one of our basic needs, and one in which many successes are based on.  Students, who do not feel belonged, long for understanding, yearn for relatability and, at times, struggle with isolation.  We live in a society where our books, music, conversations, holidays etc. are geared exclusively to families made up of a mom and dad.  While I think that we need to embrace and celebrate the mom and dad family dynamic, we also need to embrace and celebrate ALL family dynamics just the same.

When I worked with elementary students I was always careful with my pronouns during story time.  I would try and use “parents” or “family” instead of the usual “Mom and Dad.”  The reality is that there are many different family dynamics.  Children often come from a home with a step-parent, foster-parent, same-gender parents, single parent, grandparents etc., and sadly our books and language often (yet unintentionally) overlook this rapidly growing reality.  In order to thrive and succeed children need to feel affirmed and belonged regardless of where they come from, and with whom they happen to live.

Frustrated over the constant lack of children’s books on family diversity that spoke directly to a child’s self-esteem I decided to do something about it so I wrote and illustrated my own easy to read children’s book, “I Am Loved Right Where I Am” http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu

This book is a phenomenal educational tool for every child, and every home in America.  If the child reading I Am Loved Right Where I Am comes from a home with a Mom and Dad than they will not only relate to one of the characters in my book, but also learn that many of their friends and classmates may come from different family dynamics.  Children that come from other family dynamics (foster, step-parent, same-gender parents, single parent etc.) will also relate to some of the characters in my book and have a sense of family equality.  The goal of my book is quite simple; after browsing this easy to read children’s book the reader will walk away feeling belonged, loved, as well as, have a stronger sense of universal connection.

If we want our children to succeed in life it starts early, and especially in school where pressures of all types are constantly bombarding our children from every direction.  At the same token my book is just as educational for those that are home-schooled or children out of school.  Even such children are not safeguarded from the media, their (good-intentioned) friends and society.  We must ensure our youth feel safe, comfortable and belonged.  If a child is constantly on mental guard from friends, extended family members, society, the media etc., he or she cannot be fully focused on learning, or be able to reach self-actualization in life.

Please take a look at the wonderful reviews from those that have read my book http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu and treat that special or someone to a copy.  You have the option of ordering from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and even a signed copy via paypal.  This book is a great addition to your personal book collection, home library and most certainly gift to that special child or family.  Happy reading

 Amazon http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu

Barnes & Noble http://tinyurl.com/p822wrz

Signed Copy http://jasonj.biz/author.php

Youtube Video http://tinyurl.com/ocupldl

* Please share (links above) as proceeds of my book go directly to charities *

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Filed under Bullying, Discrimination, Education, Equality, Love, Media, parents, School, Youth

Hope Will Never Be Silent

Hope Will Never Be Silent

This month, the USPS will start offering Harvey Milk postage stamps. Harvey Milk became a national gay rights hero in 1977 when he was elected to a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk’s belief that the U.S. Government should represent all areas of American society encouraged and inspired the gay community at a time when discrimination and homophobia was rife. Milk was instrumental in educating the public on the dangers and absurdity of Proposition 6, which would have made firing gay teachers mandatory in the state of California.

Milk was a highly respected civil rights advocate and loved human being. Sadly however, just eleven short months after serving the people of his district, Harvey was murdered (shot point blank in the head) by Dan White – an anti-gay colleague. Mr. White was eventually convicted of voluntary manslaughter; it was an appalling legal injustice.

What I find ironic is that although some deem our lives worthless, history has shown that we are some of the strongest, most resilient, and courageous people. For centuries we have been imprisoned, beaten, bullied, mocked and murdered. Gay people have been used as science experiments, and regularly regarded as less than human. According to FBI statistics, every four minutes in our nation a crime is reported from a gay person being harassed, bashed, bullied, etc. These reports often include death threats – and these are just the reports on record. Incalculable acts of gay bashing are never reported due to shame, humiliation, embarrassment, and death threats if they are reported. Gay people cannot, to this day, freely walk in their pride parades or get married without hearing insults, slander, and verbal attacks from scores of deluded people with bullhorns. Every day across the U.S., gay couples and their homes are robbed, egged, vandalized, and burned by hate-motivated arsonists. If you open a newspaper or do a quick online search, you will find gays are daily brutally beaten, burned, mobbed, assaulted, bashed, intimidated, even killed as acceptable “punishment” simply for the way they are born. Not too long ago, we suffered excessive and demeaning bar raids, including completely unnecessary and extreme brutality from police officers. We agonized silently, having no legal recourse or protection. As an invisible minority we had no voice and few allies.

Our community encounters countless double standards. I see many young straight couples passionately making-out in shopping malls but if a gay couple holds hands they’re “flaunting their lifestyle.” When anti-gay groups call for nationwide boycotts, it is deemed a righteous use of the free market in order to preserve morality, marriage, family, and the American way. But when the gay community exercises their right to boycott, it is then homofascist intimidation, intolerance, bullying, a stifling of religious liberty, and an attempt to deny others the freedom of speech. Sadly, the examples are many.

Despite these constant travesties to our community, we continue to boldly live in love, forgiveness, and hope. We are a community often fired from our jobs for who we are, yet the first ones to lend an ear to others in need. We are a community disowned by our families, yet first to give a helping hand to others lost. We are a people continually knocked down physically, spiritually, and mentally, but stand tall and proud while dusting ourselves off. Yes, we are that community. You can throw us to the wolves, but rest assured we’ll return leading the pack.

I will share my personal story at another time but in short, I lived on my own at the young age of fourteen, forcing me to leave school and work three low-paying dead end jobs to pay rent and bills. My future was looking miserable at best. I was too young to drive and too poor for public transportation. My seven day work weeks were long and grueling. Life was not easy and I never knew what the next day held, or if my tired legs could endure another day. I guess you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have!

In time I realized that although I had little say about my start, I had all the say about my finish. I went on to serve eight honorable years in the United States Military (four years in the Army and another four in the Air force). I returned to school, eventually graduating with a master’s degree in education (high honors). I moved to NYC and worked on various television and movie sets. I wrote and recorded a CD and performed at many venues, wrote and illustrated a now published children’s book “I Am Loved Right Where I Amhttp://www.jasonj.biz/author.php I joined a pop group and toured the nation – one such performance was for the wedding of Shania Twain’s manager. Pictures of the wedding, and our group, were featured in a nation-wide publication. I am happily married for almost twelve years with one child and one on the way. Most significantly, I remain steadfast in my relationship to my heavenly Father, and my daily renewal to follow His examples.

I share some of my life highlights not in any way to boast, or for a pat on the back. I share them simply as an example of how our community repeatedly turns our tests into testaments, and our messes into messages. Despite endeavors and accomplishments, I am habitually surrounded by naysayers. Our community and all our successes are persistently dismissed, debased, and disregarded. How cruel and unfair when others throw you out in the cold and then get upset when you learn how to get warm on your own.

If you are gay, or an ally, know that you are a part of magnificent and exceptional community. I always say gay people are like winning the lottery; one never knows when a winning ticket will emerge from the family. I hope your next post office trip includes a Harvey Milk stamp or two as your support speaks volumes and marks a better tomorrow. When the gay community is strengthened, every community is strengthened!

The great Harvey Milk is unfortunately gone, yet his heroism, fearlessness, and fortitude live on. Decades after his death, Milk is still opening hearts and minds and encouraging all to live authentically. Harvey Milk’s passion for equal rights put his own life in danger, and he knew it. While writing this post, John 15:13 came to mind, “No one has greater love than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends.” There are many scholarly interpretations of this superb verse; however my favorite is from Harvey Milk himself, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet shatter every closet door!”

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May 1, 2014 · 4:13 am

“Married” is universally understood

Twelve years ago, on our first date, Eric and I spoke in length about the importance of our individual spiritual walk, and our wish to eventually have children. Four years later, while in Venice Italy walking side by side underneath an umbrella, Eric stopped to kneel and propose. Three years later (seven years to the day we met) we officially tied the knot in my hometown of Syracuse N.Y. in front of hundreds of cheering friends and family members.

One day while making lunch I felt a small pain in my lower back. Assuming it twisted the wrong way I ignored it. However the pain became increasingly unbearable. I called Eric (who immediately left a meeting) and came home. When Eric walked in and found me pale-white and on the verge of tears he swiftly assisted me to the car and rushed to the nearest emergency room. When we arrived at the hospital I was in the most indescribable pain, and in tears. I could not talk, walk or think. The medical personnel had many questions and asked Eric his relation to me. “My spouse” he uttered as they rushed me into a room and quickly attached an I.V. Although I have a pretty high threshold for pain, it was so intolerable all I could do was scream. All the while Eric stood at my bedside calmly speaking and responding to questions from nurses, doctors and billers.

Countless hours, and many tests later, I was discharged home with powerful pain medication where I would eventually pass my kidney stone. Though my physical pain eventually decreased my emotional pain for the gay community increased. While in the hospital Eric didn’t have to explain that he was my civil-unioned domestic partner lover (or any other grossly misunderstood and watered down term and the countless confusing state laws that vary with them). He simply said, “We are married.” The word “married” is universally understood. I am grateful to live in a state where all citizens are treated equally. My heart bleeds for the many across the U.S. that are not.

When I reflect back on our first date I am almost amazed at what has come to fruition. Here we are with one child and one on the way, happily married and living a very Christ-centered life in a state that respects everyone equally. While enjoying the blessed life that I live I vow to never stop fighting for all of my brother’s and sister’s rights to marry the love of their lives, regardless of where they happen to live.

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March 20, 2014 · 10:19 pm

Sports; No woman, no blacks and now no Gays

I was about to post my thoughts regarding Michael Sam when a blog-follower sent me this video. I was touched by his eloquence and progressive understanding of humans (especially from a generation where gay discrimination was completely acceptable) that I decided posting it would fare far better. Enjoy and God bless.

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February 12, 2014 · 7:54 pm

Duck Dynasty

I fought fervently to stay out of this nonsensical debacle however after a whirlwind of input requests decided to oblige my devotees – half joke, of course.

All jokes aside; you cannot bash and trash a minority group and then hide behind the cover of religion (done so many times in the past) and expect to keep a public position. Have we learned nothing from Paula Deen!?!  Phil Robertson was rightfully fired from A&E. And last I knew Phil Robertson is still a free man so those throwing the first amendment phrase around like a volley-ball need to take pause.

Phil Robertson did not kindly state his personal biblical interpretation of gay people and opposition of gay marriage and simply get fired (as we often hear on Fox ruse). Like all extremists his vile attacks and lies were offensive and damaging “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” I would be deeply saddened to have my son read or hear these statements made about his dads.

I do believe in the first amendment and freedom of speech. I do not however believe freedom of speech equates to freedom from consequence. I am a public educator and can pretty much say anything I want to my students without getting arrested. That does not mean, however, that I will not get fired for doing so.

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Filed under Bashing, Bible, Bullying, Christian, Civil, Civil Rights, Discrimination, Equality, Gay, Gay bashing, Homosexuality, Intolerance, Religious bullying, Uncategorized

Just live

I have a degree in teaching and theater, and a few credits shy of another in psychology.  What does this mean?  Well, it means I take great pleasure in sharing information, and often while doing so, it is with deep conviction, passion, depth, intensity and always theatrical flair.  This is fine and dandy in the right setting(s) however, in others, it can very easily annoy, discourage and irritate those around me.

When I came out to my family, I gave them little time to process my news.  Any questions or concerns from anyone were met with Shakespearean scorn.   I also made it my mission to email, mail, and mention every blog, every book, every television show and every cd or internet link about being gay and Christian.   Not one phone conversation ended without being rerouted to talk about my being gay and saved.  The years went on and my determination and momentum never slowed.  My family (immediate and extended) was constantly inundated with gay-related conversations, gay-related links, gay-related literature, gay-related anything and everything and I was not satisfied unless all were in complete agreement with me.  In retrospect, I was nothing less than a bully.  I honestly do not think that much of anything I ever said or sent was even remotely listened to or read.  Moreover, I am rather confident I pushed people away and jeopardized both my respect, as well as, relationships with many near and dear.

One Sunday our preacher gave the most beautiful sermon about how God overwhelmingly loves all of His children (every race, every orientation, every gender etc.) and blessed their lives.  I could not fully enjoy the service because the entire time I was so excited and fixated about all the family members that were going to get a copy of this message and be completely transformed.  As soon as possible, I attained a copy of the message and for the next several weeks did nothing but burn cd after cd.  I purchased CD envelopes and ascertained all my families’ addresses (I have well over one hundred first cousins so this was a very time-consuming and laborious process).  I was on a mission; this was going to be life-changing and how exciting when the veil of ignorance finally lifts from my family’s eyes and revelation saturates hearts and minds.

The day came when my huge box of copied and addressed cd’s were ready to be delivered.  I prayed the usual prayer over them that I have the last decade or so.  This time however, I felt something very different.  I had a profound unsettling feeling in my spirit.  I could not quite put my finger on the awkward sensation that rest in my soul but it was then I heard and felt the Lords soft and gentle voice.  “You have done it your way for years; now I want you to do it mine!”  Don’t send the cd’s I thought/asked?!?  Certainly, this could not be God because this was the great information my family so desperately needed to hear and was going to be life changing for them.  I immediately began rebuking Satan to stop taunting me.  God’s words, however, continued to play over and over in my mind and wrestle my will.  I eventually asked, “Well God, what is your way?”  As long as I shall live, I will never forget the two words that literally changed my life; “Just live!”  I sat motionless for a few moments staring at the wall dazed at the profound words that just repositioned my life.  I slowly slid the box of cd’s under my bed and silently wept. I cried thinking of all the time wasted and relationships damaged simply because I chose to do things my way and not seek Gods.

As I lay in bed I recalled something I heard in church as a little boy.  I heard, “you are often the only Bible people are reading.”  I remember thinking at the time that the statement was pretty reflective and weighty.  As professing Christians we are constantly watched, judged, and assessed in everything we do and say.  It is important to ask yourself periodically “when people watch me, what type of Christ are they seeing, and is it a reflection of the true Christ?”

To this day, I still have my box of cd’s, yet I do what I was advised.  I just live!  Not only is my life much more peaceful, but I know I have won many hearts to God and opened many an eye to the truth that He does in fact have and love His gay children.

Every person and life is unique, and each of us with an individual calling.  Some of us are singers, politicians, etc., who spread the equality message globally.  Some have other platforms that God uses to share his enduring love of inclusion including those like me who were chosen to “just live.” Pebbles make mountains and raindrops make seas.  All we may see at times is the small ripple we make in the water but we forget that Gods message is riding on those eventual immeasurable waves.  What Bible is being read when others watch you?  God bless you, today and always.

* For other gay christian blogs click here http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/sanity *

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Filed under Christian, Education, Equality, Gay, Gods will, Intolerance